US job openings soar to highest level on record

AP
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WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. employers posted a record number of available jobs in March, illustrating starkly the desperation of businesses trying to find new workers as the country emerges from the pandemic and the economy expands.

Yet total job gains increased only modestly, according to a Labor Department report issued Tuesday.

The figures follow an April jobs report last week that was far weaker than expected, largely because companies appear unable to find the workers they need, even with the unemployment rate elevated at 6.1%.

Job openings rose nearly 8%, to 8.1 million in March, the most on records dating back to December 2000, the government said.

Yet overall hiring that month rose less than 4% to 6 million.

The hiring number is a gross figure, while the government’s jobs report — which said 770,000 jobs were added in March — uses a net total.

Tuesday’s report is known as the Job Openings and Labor Turnover Survey, or JOLTS.

A separate survey of small businesses by the National Federation of Independent Business found that 44% had jobs they couldn’t fill, also a record high.

The NFIB and JOLTS “add to evidence from the April employment report that labor shortages are widespread, pushing up prices and potentially acting as a brake on the recovery,” said Michael Pearce, an economist at Capital Economics.

Job postings rose in most industries, including restaurants, bars and hotels; manufacturing; construction; and retail. They fell in health care and transportation and warehousing.

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